MIAMI (WSVN) - A patient who was rushed to the hospital after the Coral Princess docked at PortMiami has died, officials said, bringing the death toll to three as passengers who are still inside the cruise ship wait to be cleared to go home.
In a statement, Miami-Dade County officials said six people were transported from the ship to hospitals in Miami-Dade and Tampa on Saturday.
One of those patients, who was transported by private ambulance, died at Larkin Community Hospital in Hialeah, officials said.
Julie Maa revealed on social media that the third person who died on board the Coral Princess was her father, Wilson Maa.
Maa waited hours before he was taken to the hospital for treatment. U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., has called for an investigation into Maa’s death.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez added that county investigators are looking into Maa’s death and that fire rescue was standing by but never received a call.
“We have no record of anybody trying to access 911,” he said. “There’s a rescue truck right on the port. They should have just called 911, let our paramedics assess the situation, and then, our paramedics would do the right thing, and so I don’t know why that protocol was broken.”
Princess Cruises said two other people had died on board the ship before it arrived in South Florida.
On Sunday, officials said, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue units assisted in the transport of eight additional patients to area hospitals. In all, 17 passengers were taken to South Florida hospitals.
“We continue to work at the Port of Miami to offload passengers and crew and get them to their home as quickly as possible while also helping some very sick patients get the medical care they need to save their lives,” Gimenez said.
7News cameras captured patients arriving at Jackson Memorial Hospital on Sunday.
The sight of ambulances leaving the terminal where the ship is docked has become a familiar sight for passengers who remain on board.
It’s been a long journey for passengers like Kathleen O’Neill from Raleigh, North Carolina.
“I don’t know what we’re gonna do,” she said. “We are trapped on this boat. We’re just waiting.”
O’Neill said she’s frustrated after being on board the ship for more than a month, and she is hearing that 215 Americans remain on the ship.
“I sit here with my bag packed and by the door. I anxiously await somebody calling me or putting a note in my mailbox that says, ‘It’s your turn,'” she said.
On Monday, cruise line officials said more than 270 passengers remain on the ship.
The passenger said she is also scared after hearing there have been multiple confirmed cases of coronavirus and three deaths.
“I’m 64, my husband is 71. I do not want to die on this ship,” she said. “We haven’t had any information given to us since yesterday.”
The cruise departed from Chile on March 5 and was supposed to end in Argentina on March 19. However, because of issues due to the coronavirus, the ship ended up docking at PortMiami on Saturday, thousands of miles away from its original destination.
“There’s really no sense of what’s going on or when we are going to be allowed off,” said O’Neill, “and, to be honest with you, it’s extremely disconcerting to see ambulance after ambulance going away.”
While O’Neill said she’s not showing signs of COVID-19, she will continue to show paper signs she made from her balcony.
“One of them says ‘Test me,’ another one says ‘I’m not sick,’ and the other sign says ‘Let me go,'” she said.
While some passengers must stay quarantined on the ship, those from specific regions and who have been medically cleared are heading home.
7News cameras showed several of them boarding buses at the terminal headed to Miami International Airport. From there, they will be getting onto flights to California, Australia and the United Kingdom.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has changed their policy and is not allowing passengers disembarking cruise ships to fly commercial. They will now have to take charter flights, a step that delays the process even more.
This is especially true for the O’Neills, who said they’ve been told friends aren’t allowed to drive down to pick them up at the port.
“My husband is on the other phone with friends in North Carolina that are private pilots to see if one of them is willing to come and get us,” said O’Neill.
Sunday night, county officials said Jackson Health System is sending in medical personnel to help passengers on the ship. In addition, MDFR crews have replaced the ship’s oxygen supply, which had been running low.
As for the O’Neills, they said they just want this nightmare to end.
“To be so tantalizingly close to leaving and to just be trapped here,” said O’Neill.
Passengers and crew members exhibiting symptoms but do not need to be hospitalized must remain on the ship until they have recovered.
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